Thursday, September 24, 2015
I wanted to find a new fragrance for myself on my trip to France. Being a scent-obsessed person, I started considering my options long before my actual departure. I considered Une Rose from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. I've always loved this scent and consider it to be the perfect rose perfume. I also wanted to be sure to visit the Frederic Malle boutique in Paris since the images I've seen of it look very stylish. I've been wearing a sample of the scent, test driving it... The reactions have been so-so. "It's smells like rose. It's nice." Nice wasn't particularly what I was going for. And I never made it to the boutique in Paris. There were just too many other seductive retail experiences in that city and I ran out of time.
At the duty free in LAX and Heathrow I tried on the parfum version of Dior Homme. I've never had the original Dior Homme though I like it very much and put it on whenever I'm in a Sephora. I liked the parfum version - it was deeper, richer. I thought I detected a coffee note. I was surprised that by the time I landed in Paris, less than an hour away from Heathrow that Dior Homme Parfum had all but disappeared on my wrist. On the other wrist I sprayed the parfum concentration of Fahrenheit; also very nice but not better than the original version which I already own.
I tried on Cuir d'Ange from the Hermessence line of Hermes. I tend to love the work of Jean Claude Ellena, the perfumer of Hermes. Cuir d'Ange is an excellent leather scent and I admire it enormously, but smells a bit too much like Band Aids on my skin.
In Paris I was thrilled to see that Diptyque has rereleased one of my favorite fragrances that has long been discontinued. Opone is a complex, spicy rose fragrance. I used to wear it in Paris when I lived there. Apparently the new version dials up the black pepper while cutting the cumin note. Honestly it doesn't smell very different to me. I love both versions. The bottle was perfect - cracked glass with a tiny label bearing the name of the perfume and an elegant bakelite cap. The sales assistant at the Marais Diptyque graciously gave me a sample of Opone and I wore it throughout my time in France. I resisted purchasing it though because we'll most likely be getting it at the perfume store where I work and a discount is a discount.
I found my scent at the IUNX boutique of the Hotel Costes. I had high hopes for L'Ether, (an incense scent that gets high praise online) and a new sandalwood fragrance. It was Eau Argentine that captured my imagination in the end. The sales assistant referred to it as a tea scent, mate in particular. I smelled tonka bean - the beautiful scent of freshly mown hay. I asked if there was tonka, she said 'Non. C'est mate'. The bottle lists coumarin however (ie. tonka bean). Duh.
The drydown of Eau Argentine goes into a creamy fig tree with crisp autumn leaves, not wildly different than Diptyque's Philosykos (designed by the same perfumer in fact, Olivia Giacobetti) yet it stays a tonka bean fragrance rather than a fig fragrance. I compared it to the new Feve Delicieuse from Dior which begins in a similar way to Eau Argentine though the drydown of the former becomes a pure vanilla.
The IUNX bottle is massive and long. It comes in a protective black foam case. I didn't spray it on until I came home to Los Angeles where I could photograph it in its pristine state. I reorganized my entire fragrance collection in my closet so that it could sit in a prime spot.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
The garden in La Redorte didn't always look like this. In fact this is an 'after' picture. I didn't think to take a 'before' picture because I was focused on clearing out the wild jungle that had emerged in the year since I last visited the house in France. Brennan and I were motivated to take the project on. We both love plants and enjoy the physicality of gardening - but when we first arrived at the house and found that we couldn't walk very far into it because of these enormous vines bearing tiny purple berries that blocked every path, we knew the job would present no shortage of challenges.
First we ordered two 'big bags' of gravel. Each 'big bag' bears one ton of rocks. I suppose the French like to say 'beeg bag' rather than 'grand sac', at least those in the building profession. Les big bags arrived on a flat bed truck that barely fit down the tiny road. The operator of the truck controlled the crane from a remote control unit hanging from his neck. The movements were fluid, precise and controlled. I feel such an operation would never happen in LA but for some reason, in rural France, it seemed to be no problem. When the driver finished and the sacks were positioned by the front door, I said to him "Quel spectacle! Je suis vraiment impressione!" to which he replied "C'est d'habitude." Piece of cake. Piece of gateau...
Brennan and I transported the four tons of gravel one wheelbarrowful at a time. We created ramps to go up and down stone walkways. We had to replace the wheel once. We went to bed sore every night. We used stones left over from earlier projects where holes were knocked out of the three foot thick walls of the house to create a new door and a larger window from the kitchen. They become borders along the edges of the new planted areas. We created a planter in the front garden with the stones and filled it with jasmine. The climbing jasmine is a variety named after the city of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. The few blossoms that still opened in September released an intense, beautiful scent.
We made a raised circle in the center of the back garden and planted a mature olive tree. We lined the back border with pink oleander which will hopefully grow substantially and become a privacy screen. We filled the rest of the new spaces, enriched with bagged soil with verbena, plants that look like Russian sage but are not, rosemary, blue fescue grass and a highly fragrant rose.
After we completed the garden, Brennan and I used any moment we could find to sit on the cafe chairs, drink wine and notice the sound of the breeze through the leaves and the perfume of the fig tree filling the air.